Michele Usibelli of Woodway is the poster artist for this year’s Edmonds Arts Festival.

Poster artist personifies Edmonds Art Festival’s education focus

EDMONDS — After 59 years, the Edmonds Arts Festival — June 17 to 19 at the Frances Anderson Center — continues follow its original mission to promote art education and art appreciation.

It gives adults, children and teens a place to showcase their art, and vendor fees help the festival foundation’s efforts to fund scholarships, buy art supplies for teachers and establish art in public places. And the arts festival is free.

With that mission in mind, arts festival director Julaine Fleetwood chose Woodway painter Michele Hampson Usibelli as this year’s festival poster artist.

Usibelli teaches painting, participates in the Edmonds Studio Tour, volunteers in schools, has served as a juror for the festival’s main art exhibit and helped coordinate the student art show.

“I love Michele’s impressionistic style, her landscapes and cityscapes. I can smell the salt water when I look at her marina paintings,” Fleetwood said. “But she was a perfect fit for our poster artist because she is local, she loves Edmonds and she understands the educational mission of the festival.”

The oil painting used for the festival poster is “Ferry Route,” a colorful scene from Main Street just west of Fifth Avenue.

“In this intriguingly lit vignette of everyday life, one can actually feel the energy of downtown Edmonds,” Fleetwood said. “It evokes the emotion of what it’s like to live here.”

Usibelli, 52, grew up in Seattle and knew in second grade that she wanted to be an artist. She even appeared one year on the J.P. Patches TV show as one of 10 young winners of an art contest.

But Usibelli took a circuitous route to get to where she is today. She worked for an architectural firm and spent time in the corporate world. It was only after she and her husband settled in the Edmonds area that she got back to art.

A young stay-at-home mom with three children, she received a gift of art classes.

“I keep my first painting in the closet and bring it out to show my art students. It is not good,” Usibelli said. “When they see that painting, they feel a whole lot better about their own work.”

Usibelli, who works in oils, watercolor and gauche, gives credit for her success to her mentor Ned Mueller, a Montana painter who now lives in Issaquah.

“We still paint together,” she said.

Cole Gallery in Edmonds represents Usibelli, but her artwork can be found in public and private collections throughout the world.

Usibelli plans to be on hand at the festival from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday in the Edmonds Arts Festival Foundation Gallery near the Main Street main entrance of Anderson Center. The gallery will display the original poster painting and others by the artist. The poster will be offered for sale there for $25 for the full size or $15 for a smaller print.

About 50,000 people are expected to attend the three-day festival this Father’s Day weekend. People can expect 240 booths featuring artists and craftsmen, lots of food for sale and plenty of entertainment.

Three juried art “galleries” in the Anderson Center will show and sell work by 200 local and regional artists. In addition, look for the artist-in-action area near the wine “grotto.”

Kids Create, an area where children can make their own art projects to take home, is popular, and the Student Art Exhibit features work by students of the Edmonds School District.

Local music students and seasoned entertainers are set to perform in the festival amphitheater. Highlights include Commander Mojo and the Horns of Discontent at 5 p.m. Friday, the Stacy Jones Band at 6:30 p.m. Saturday and the Edmonds-Woodway High School Jazz Band, one of the best in the Northwest, at 4 p.m. Sunday.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

If you go

Edmonds Arts Festival

10 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 17 and 18, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 19 at the Frances Anderson Center, 700 Main St., Edmonds.

To make parking easier, a free shuttle is provided from various Edmonds locations.

To learn more, go to www.edmondsartsfestival.com.

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